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Lou Dobbs Tonight

Democrats Threaten Showdown Over Warrantless Wiretaps; Former Mexican President Speaks Out on Illegal Immigration

Aired October 09, 2007 - 18:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, startling new insults and threats against the United States uttered by none other than former Mexican President Vicente Fox, Fox declaring that -- quote -- "xenophobics, racists, and the superior race," as he put it, "are deciding the future of the United States."
Oh, yeah? And President Fox has an offer for me. We will be discussing that tonight and we will have complete coverage of his outburst here.

Also, many state lawmakers in New York have had a bellyful of Governor Eliot Spitzer's proposal to give driver's licenses to illegal aliens. They're now demanding federal intervention. Two lawmakers with opposing views on the argument join us here tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: news, debate, and opinion for Tuesday, October 9.

Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.

Congressional Democrats tonight are threatening a showdown with the Bush administration over warrantless wiretaps. Democrats now say the wiretap law that Congress passed in August went too far. And they're demanding urgent changes. The Bush administration, for its part, refuses.

Today, apparently by coincidence, the White House issued a new report about the terrorism threat to this country.

First, Jessica Yellin reporting from Capitol Hill -- Jessica.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Lou, Democrats say the current wiretap law gives the Bush administration unnecessary powers that it could easily abuse and they want to fix it. But the Democrats' solution is not going over well with Republicans.


YELLIN (voice-over): House Democrats say the current law gives the government far too much power.

REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), NEW YORK: To capture millions and millions and almost all phone calls originating or entering the United States without a warrant. And that's just -- that's wrong. It's a total invasion of privacy of Americans.

YELLIN: They say the bill they are introducing today would better protect Americans' privacy. The government currently does not need court approval to listen to people overseas who might be calling the U.S. The new law would change that. It would require the government get warrants for those kinds of calls.

And, to be efficient, the bill would let the court issue blanket warrants, allowing the government to eavesdrop on people it can show might be affiliated with a targeted group like al Qaeda. House Republicans are bashing the bill. One top Republican says Democrats are giving unprecedented constitutional protections to terrorists, spies and other enemies overseas.

Another sticking point for Republicans, they say the bill must give telecommunications companies immunity for cooperating with the Bush administration on past surveillance. This bill does not do that.

REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: Well, this is a and trial lawyer bill. It is designed to make it possible to sue those who cooperated with us retroactively after September 11.


YELLIN: Now, this could be a politically risky fight for Democrats, but they say the current bill, the current law is so badly flawed, it gives such broad powers to the government, that they're willing to risk a national security showdown to fix it -- Lou.

DOBBS: Jessica, a showdown, another showdown they're willing to risk, but why wasn't that confrontation undertaken in August?

YELLIN: They maintain that they did undertake the confrontation and the clock ran out on them, Lou. But you're absolutely right. At the very last minute they did go with the president's proposal. We will see if they do better this time.

DOBBS: Doing better this time, is there any political sense -- and forgive me for putting it this way, because it becomes a difficult question, I suppose, Jessica. But isn't there any embarrassment about outright incompetence on the part of either political party's leadership there?

YELLIN: Well, they say this is a matter of politics and timing and that they have the votes. So, they're not talking about incompetence. They're saying the polls show that they rank equally with Republicans on terrorism and they're determined to win it now.

DOBBS: All right, Jessica, thank you very much -- Jessica Yellin from Capitol Hill.

As lawmakers debate warrantless wiretaps, the White House today issued a new warning about terrorism. The White House declared al Qaeda continues to be a serious and dangerous threat. Officials also saying al Qaeda is trying to obtain weapons of mass destruction.

Suzanne Malveaux reports from the White House.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We are a country at war and in constant danger. At least that's what President Bush says is the key rationale behind his updated strategy to keep the homeland safe.

He begins, "Six years after the attacks of September 11, 2001, we remain at war." Then his Homeland Security report goes on to say, "The most serious and dangerous manifestation of this threat remains al Qaeda, driven by an undiminished strategic intent to attack our homeland through greater cooperation with regional terrorist groups, particularly al Qaeda in Iraq."

So, is anything new here? The U.S. intelligence community released its own threat assessment three months ago. They warned al Qaeda would continue to use its terrorist wing in Iraq to train for and plot attacks on U.S. soil.

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: The language in this Homeland Security report is almost verbatim what you would find in the national security estimate done in July.

MALVEAUX: What is different is the timing of the report's release. This is only the second Homeland Security strategy released by the administration. The last one was five years ago.

But these dire warnings come on the eve of a critical debate in Congress over the president's warrantless wiretapping program. The president insists he needs this program to go after the very same terrorist threats mentioned in this report.

QUESTION: It's just a mere matter of coincidence?

DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I have not heard anything otherwise, no.


MALVEAUX: Well, Lou, the White House press secretary, Dana Perino, said it was a matter of crossing the T's and dotting the I's. But, clearly, they have had five years, essentially, to complete this report. The White House does not do anything without great deliberation, even Perino acknowledging, said she certainly hopes that this report will try to convince those Democratic critics that he, in fact, does need that program -- Lou.

DOBBS: Yes, I would say it's a fair statement to suggest that this report represents that deliberative, cautious, careful nature that is the essence of this White House.

Thank you very much, Suzanne Malveaux, from the White House.

The White House today insisted Pakistan remains a close ally in the fight against global terrorism. The Pakistani army today said as many as 250 people have been killed in fighting between soldiers and terrorists over just the past four days.

The Pakistani Air Force bombed terrorist positions in northern Waziristan near the border with Afghanistan. Pakistani troops launched their offensive after a roadside bomb attack against a military convoy Saturday. The United States says Taliban and al Qaeda terrorists are using Pakistan now as a safe haven from which to launch attacks against U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Turning to the war in Iraq, CNN has obtained evidence that President Bush may have created a misleading impression when he announced his plan for troop withdrawals. President Bush suggested an Army combat brigade would be coming home earlier than scheduled.

But it turns out that none of our troops will be leaving Iraq early.

As our Jamie McIntyre now reports, the Army is stretched to the breaking point by repeated and extended combat deployments -- Jamie.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, another dire warning about the strain the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are putting on U.S. troops, once again, coming from the Army's top general, Chief of Staff General George Casey, addressing an Army convention here in Washington.


GENERAL GEORGE CASEY, ARMY CHIEF OF STAFF: Today's Army is out of balance. The current demand on our forces exceeds the sustainable supply. We're consumed with meeting the demands of the current fight and unable to ready to provide ready forces as rapidly as we would like for other contingencies.


MCINTYRE: All of which raises the question, when President Bush said last month that it would be possible to bring home an Army brigade by Christmas, was it really because of the success of the surge or was it a necessity to give soldiers 12 months off from their deployments?

CNN has obtained the deployment schedule that predates the president's announcement. And guess what? It shows that four Army brigades were already coming home in December. When -- the president is right, when he says that, come the end of the year, there will only be 19 combat brigades in Iraq, down from 20. But it's because Defense Secretary Robert Gates blocked the deployment of a brigade from the 1st Armored Division from Germany after it was discovered it didn't get the full year off.

So, contrary to the impression that you might have gotten from the president's remarks last month about bringing home a brigade by Christmas, no U.S. troops are returning early from Iraq.

And, Lou, here's something else the president didn't mention. Because so many of the support troops sent in with the search brigades are still needed, there will be more troops on the ground in the summer than they were before the surge started -- Lou.

DOBBS: This is -- I think this White House, Jamie, if I may be straightforward about it, and this Pentagon have much to explain.

But let me ask you this. General Casey is basically saying that we don't have enough troops, that we have extended their tours to -- and we have repeated those tours, and that we simply don't have enough troops. What in the world are they doing about it? It is lamentable, I must say, to hear a top general talk about these issues and offer no solution.

These people, these people leading our fine, young soldiers and Marines have known the situation for two years, and have done nothing to fix it.

MCINTYRE: Well, they have plans to expand the size of the Army. They have plans to speed up the expansion of the Army. And, obviously, that requires recruits, volunteers. Tomorrow, the Army will officially announce they made the recruiting goals for this year, but they also acknowledge it's going to be tough to continue that, particularly, they note, with even though individuals are willing to volunteer for the military services, their families are urging them not to. And that's becoming the biggest block to recruitment.

DOBBS: Jamie, thank you very much -- Jamie McIntyre from the Pentagon.

In Iraq, insurgents killed another of our troops. The soldier was killed in a gun battle in northern Iraq; 11 of our troops have been killed in Iraq so far this month; 3,819 of our troops have been killed since the war began, 28,093 of our troops wounded, 12,600 of them seriously.

Coming up here next, a remarkable and insulting outburst by Mexico's former president, Vicente Fox, remarkable even by the standards of former Mexican government officials and current.

Casey Wian will have that report -- Casey.

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, former Mexican President Vicente Fox is out promoting his new book and he's doing so by playing the race card and playing fast and loose with the facts. We will have more coming up -- Lou.

DOBBS: Casey, thanks. Looking forward to it.

Also, a leading pro-amnesty lawmaker, Senator Barbara Boxer, is she trying to stop the federal government from enforcing our immigration laws, trying to prevent them from doing so until California could ring up a few more congressional districts on the backs, if you will, of illegal aliens in the state of California? No, certainly not. We will find out.

And if you believe your apple juice originates in the United States, no. Nearly all of our orange juice -- or apple juice, rather, comes from a country with notorious lax standards and record on food safety and almost a total disregard for the well-being of American consumers, much like our own government. We will be telling you about that.

We are coming right back.


DOBBS: Former Mexican President Vicente Fox and I didn't see exactly eye to eye during his entire term in office. Fox is now touring the United States promoting his new book and he's pushing the amnesty agenda at the same time with all of the vigor of past years.

Casey Wian reports now on some of the outrageous things that Vicente Fox said, for example, on last night's appearance on the "LARRY KING LIVE" show.


WIAN (voice-over): Vicente Fox says his new book, "Revolution of Hope," is aimed at an American audience. The former Mexican president says he wants a dialogue over the issue of the 21st century. Fox calls it migration. Border security advocates call it illegal immigration. Fox says the Mexican workers entering this country are exactly what the United States needs.


VICENTE FOX, FORMER MEXICAN PRESIDENT: I am not claiming for open borders to everybody. What I am claiming for is a decision, an intelligent decision with a vision to the future, because the United States needs that energy to support the elderly, to support the pension plans, to be competitive in front of Asia and China.


WIAN: Manuel (ph) from Dallas e-mailed this question.


LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": "Don't the leaders of Mexico feel ashamed that so many of their countrymen are leaving to find a better life in a country rather than their own?"

FOX: Partially, yes. That's partially true, this comment. It's our main obligation, our first obligation, to build up these opportunities in Mexico for our own people.


WIAN: Fox was less conciliatory to the Associated Press Monday, saying, "The xenophobics, racists, those who feel they are the superior race, they are deciding the future of this nation," that from the man who while Mexico's president said this:

FOX (through translator): There's no doubt that Mexicans filled with dignity, willingness and ability to work are doing jobs that not even blacks want to do there in the United States.

WIAN: Fox later expressed regret over that remark and the Mexican government apologized.

Perhaps Fox's most questionable comment on "LARRY KING" was in response to another e-mail.


KING: From Patricia, Oxnard, California: "Why should the American public have to pay for medical care of illegal immigrants from Mexico? Why shouldn't we be able to bill the government of Mexico for care given to their citizens?"

FOX: Patricia, let me tell you that you're not paying for medical care for undocumented workers.


WIAN: In fact, one border security advocacy group estimates U.S. taxpayers in hospitals spent $2.2 billion on illegal alien health care in 2004 and another $2.5 billion on Medicaid for their children.


WIAN: Vicente Fox says he continues to support amnesty for illegal aliens and a temporary worker program. He also endorsed the recent comments made by his successor, Felipe Calderon, that Mexico extends beyond its borders and wherever there is a Mexican, Mexico is there -- Lou.

DOBBS: Thank you very much, Casey.

Well, we have, as you know, Casey Wian, repeatedly invited Vicente Fox to join us on this broadcast to debate illegal immigration and border security. Fox has always declined our invitations for some strange reason. So, in an exchange with Larry King last night, Vicente Fox surprised all of us a bit.


KING: Do you know of CNN's Lou Dobbs?

Do you know Lou Dobbs?

FOX: Yes. Yes, I know him. Yes.

KING: And you know he is kind of leading a fight against illegal immigration?

Do you take issue with him?

FOX: I'm -- well, I would love to have a debate with him.


DOBBS: Well, now, that is an invitation that stirs the blood and the imagination.

So, what I thought I would like to do here tonight is just find out how you feel about the prospect of a debate with the former Mexican president and myself. So, what we would like to do tonight is, we would like you to give Vicente Fox the answer. And I guarantee you, I will go anywhere and meet him at any time, depending on your answers.

So, our poll question is simply: Do you believe I should accept Vicente Fox's challenge to debate him? Yes or no. That's right. You will be deciding tonight, right here, whether the debate with Mexican president, former Mexican President Vicente Fox will take place with myself. I personally am delighted and anxious to do so. Please cast your vote at We will have the results here later in the broadcast.

Federal agents today announced the arrest of 1,300 violent gang members in what was a three-month-long nationwide sweep. More than 1,000 of those arrested were illegal aliens. The nationwide crackdown used the tool of enforcing immigration laws to battle criminal street gang violence. It also marks the first time that the federal government has used immigration and customs agents to battle violent criminals. Imagine that.

Well, Senator Barbara Boxer is apparently trying to block enforcement of immigration laws. She wants those immigration laws not to be enforced until after the 2010 census. I wonder why. The Democrat from California is pushing an amendment through Congress that would limit raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to the watchdog group Judicial Watch.

Even though illegal aliens are not allowed to vote, they are counted in the official census. And, because of that, states with large illegal alien populations, such as Senator Boxer's state, the state of California, would gain many additional seats in the House of Representatives. And those states, by the way, without illegal, large illegal alien populations, that is those states following the law, would be the ones to lose representation, whatever the level of that representation is now.

The Census Bureau itself said recently that immigration rates is making a difficult for them to do their jobs because illegal aliens are afraid to answer their doors and the Census Bureau's questions. In addition to California, states such as Arizona, Texas, Florida and New Jersey would also gain substantial numbers of seats if their illegal alien populations are counted, as they will certainly be in the 2010 census.

I wonder why Senator Boxer wants to delay enforcement of immigration law until after 2010. Like I just said, the balance of power would shift away from states with legal populations to states with greater numbers of illegal aliens, states such as Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, and New York.

Senator Boxer's office tells us, the Judicial Watch, by the way -- that report, they say, is entirely inaccurate. So, we will be watching as the Senate reconvenes next Monday, and we will see what Senator Boxer decides to do or not to do with her proposal.

Up next, increasing opposition to the governor of New York's proposal to grant drivers's licenses to illegal aliens. We will have that special report and what promises to be a spirited debate by New York state senators on that issue.

And that apple juice that your child is drinking, do you know where it comes from? The label won't tell you, not in all likelihood. We don't like country of origin labels in this country, even though it's the law. We will have a special report.

Stay with us. We will be right back.


DOBBS: Disturbing new information tonight about the number of -- the number-one orange juice -- apple juice, rather, consumed by American children. The vast majority of apple juice consumed by our children doesn't come from apples grown in American orchards. If you think that, you're wrong. In fact, it contains a syrupy concentrate from good old communist China, in fact.

As Christine Romans now reports, China has emerged as the dominant exporter of apple juice at a time when serious questions are being raised about the safety of nearly all its food exports to the United States.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The 100 percent pure apple juice on grocery store shelves is not from your local orchard. The vast majority is from China.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You would think that apples would come from the United States. They don't. It's too bad.

ROMANS: Nearly half the world's apples are now grown in China, part of a targeted strategy by the communist leadership to boost ag exports. In the early 1990s, according to the Agriculture Department, China shipped just $1 million a year in apple juice to the U.S.; today, it's more than 100 times that.

Chinese apple workers earn less than $2 a day. Here, pickers earn between $9 and $15, depending on the region. According to a report last year from the USDA, Chinese fruits and vegetables often have high levels of pesticide residues, heavy metals and contaminants, the report noting widespread pollution, high pest infestations and a long history of heavy chemical fertilizer and pesticide use.

PATTY LOVERA, FOOD & WATER WATCH: Is that what you want to support with your money? And is that what you want it eat, something that was grown under those conditions that weren't subject to the same safety standards that they would be here?

ROMANS: The processing industry insists Chinese imports are safe. RICHARD CRISTOL, JUICE PRODUCTS ASSOCIATION: That over these 10- plus years that significant quantities of apple juice concentrate had been imported from China, there's been no issue or no contamination problem that we're aware of.

ROMANS: The U.S. Apple Association also says Chinese juice is safe, in part because it's pasteurized. But it does not want cheap Chinese apples in the U.S. market.

NANCY FOSTER, U.S. APPLE ASSOCIATION: America's apple farmers believe that Chinese apples should not be allowed in this country until it can be proven that they don't pose a threat by bringing in foreign pests and diseases.

ROMANS: Apple farmers note that it took just 10 years for China to absolutely dominate the apple juice market. Today, Martinelli's is one of the rare juices that makes juice only from American apples.


ROMANS: Now, Consumers can look on the label to see what country or countries the apple juice concentrate was imported from. It's required, but finding it can be very hard. It can be really obscured. It can smudged.

It's a pretty safe bet that much of our apple juice does contain concentrate from China, Lou.

DOBBS: Well, whether it contains concentrate or not, if it comes from communist China, the fact is the USDA is saying that that concentrate from China has all sorts of contaminants and pesticides?

ROMANS: They were talking about the conditions under which fruits and vegetables are raised in China and why it's so much cheaper.

DOBBS: Well, do the blithering bureaucrats at the USDA know whether or not it's safe? Are they inspecting it rigorously?

ROMANS: The FDA is responsible for inspections. And the FDA did not return a call and an e-mail seeking comment about just how often they are inspecting these and whether they're going to the Chinese orchards.

DOBBS: Oh, that's really astounding, because the Food and Drug Administration has been so, I think, remarkably conscientious in wanting to serve the American public and food safety and certainly wanting to get the story out about what is going on.

ROMANS: But the industry says there's no problem with this concentrate, Lou, but American consumers, many of the advocates say, should have the right to very easily know where their stuff comes from so they can decide.

DOBBS: And those country of origin labels still being resisted in every quarter by every one of these vested interests. The only people whose interest is not being served, of course, again, the American consumer.

Christine, thanks -- Christine Romans.

Time now for some of your thoughts.

Davis in Texas wrote in to say: "Do you think that the future construction site of the George W. Bush Presidential Library will be in Mexico or China?"

Now, that's a good question and an awfully tough call. We're going to have to wait on that and deliberate.

Sherry in California: "Dear, Lou, Vicente Fox said the problem with the American public and immigration was fear. Fox and the rest of the elites don't get it. So, let me spell it out for them: disrespect, disrespect for our laws, disrespect for our culture, disrespect for our language, disrespect for our flag, disrespect for our countryside and parks, disrespect for our traditions, disrespect for the American people."

Stephanie in New Mexico said: "It was sure good it see you again, Lou, baby."

Well, thank you.

"We sure missed you. I wish our government and president would listen to you. They would learn a lot. Stay healthy."

I will do my best.

And we will have more of your thoughts here later in the broadcast.

Coming up next, buyer beware. The federal government gives the go-ahead for even more dangerous imports from our friends in communist China.

And some harsh words on the current field of Republican presidential candidates from a former Bush White House official. We will tell you all about that.

And New York state lawmakers revolting against Governor Eliot Spitzer's plans to give driver's licenses type to illegal aliens. We will have a debate on that issue and a great deal more coming right up.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: Tonight, there is a revolt in New York State against Governor Eliot Spitzer's proposal to issue drivers' licenses to illegal aliens. Some lawmakers, in fact, are calling for the federal Department of Homeland Security to intervene directly and to stop the governor from his efforts to implement that proposed measure.

As Bill Tucker now reports, concern over voter fraud is fueling much of the concern.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New York's governor and the majority leader of its state senate are squaring off over the issue of drivers' licenses for illegal aliens.

State Senator Joe Bruno vows to do anything he can to stop the governor's plan before it's implemented, and he says he has the support of many Democrats.


JOSEPH BRUNO (R), NEW YORK STATE SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: It's not a partisan issue in any way. It's not political. It's just plain wrong. Governor Spitzer is wrong. He is rewarding people who break the law who are illegally in this country. It's dangerous. It's anti- security, it's fraud just waiting to happen.

TUCKER: On October 22nd, the state senate will take up legislation that would require applicants for a driver's license or non-driver identification card to have a Social Security number or proof of authorized presence in the United States, which would undo the governor's executive order. Non-driver identification cards and drivers' licenses issued to illegal aliens will look exactly the same as those issued to legal residents and citizens. And that has many in the state worried about possible voter fraud.

MARK SMITH, CONSTITUTIONAL ATTORNEY: In New York, like in most other states -- in fact, almost all states -- when you apply for a drivers' license you're also essentially handed an application to register to vote. Certainly in New York, that is the way that it works.

TUCKER: The governor's office responds by noting that all people registering to vote must swear under penalty of imprisonment and fine that they are citizens of the United States. The state has also stopped issuing drivers' licenses and I.D. cards for temporary residents which note their temporary status along with the expiration date of their visa.

Ironically, citizens will still have to provide a Social Security number to be granted a driver's license or I.D. card.


TUCKER: But it's not clear what will be accepted for illegal aliens. Foreign passports, matricula consulars and parole papers are among the possible documents being discussed -- Lou.

DOBBS: Bill Tucker reporting.

Well, the New York State Senate is preparing for a showdown over the illegal alien drivers' licenses. Republican State Senator Martin Golden is the co-sponsor of legislation that would block Governor Spitzer's plan to give those licenses to illegals. Democratic State Senator Jose Serrano a staunch supporter of the governor's proposals. And Senator Serrano says giving licenses to illegals actually makes New York and the whole country safer.

Good to have you both here.


DOBBS: Let's begin if I may, Senator Serrano, you support this yet we have reported on this broadcast -- and it's pretty well- documented, if I may say that -- that this in violation of federal law without question -- The Real I.D. Act.

How can you -- how can you support legis -- this kind of proposal when it's -- when it's illegal?

JOSE SERRANO (D), NEW YORK STATE SENATE: Well, The Real I.D. Act, as you know, Lou, has -- will not take effect until 2013...

DOBBS: Full effect. Full effect.

SERRANO: ...and the criteria for Real I.D. -- the New York State drivers' license never fulfilled that criteria even before this plan. Actually, none of the drivers' licenses throughout this country reach that criteria. So that's a whole different issue.

But as far as making it safer, it guarantees that we have more qualified drivers on the road. It gives us the opportunity to have more insured motorists on the road.

DOBBS: Senator Golden?

MARTIN GOLDEN (R), NEW YORK STATE SENATE: I can't believe the statements that we're hearing from the Democratic side here in the State of New York. Seventy percent of this great nation believes it's wrong. And I'm surprised it's not higher than that. We have illegals coming in here and it's not the concern of the illegals that are coming into this state that I'm concerned about. It's the terrorism that's coming in. Those cells that are being set up here in this state and across this nation, we are giving the gold standard -- the New York State license is the gold license for across this nation. And we're giving that out. You can buy a gun, buy a home, rent an apartment, lease a car. You can get credit cards. You can transfer funds. That is the key...

DOBBS: Well, let me...

SERRANO: Well...

GOLDEN: ...and we can't allow that to happen.

DOBBS: Go ahead, Senator.

SERRANO: There is no correlation between immigration and terrorism. And we really need to stop continuing to make that -- that argument. The truth of the matter is that most immigrants are here to build this nation and to work hard for their families. What we need to do to stop terrorism is to go after those who would wish to do harm to this nation, not just have a blanket approach to all immigrants. Having a driver's license is not an immigration document.

DOBBS: Wait a minute, you said don't have a blanket approach to all immigrants?

SERRANO: Well, when it comes to this issue, it's very...

DOBBS: Why in the world would we not want to have a uniform...

SERRANO: There should be different policies...

DOBBS: absolutely uniform policy on all immigration into this country?

SERRANO: Well, it can't be a blanket approach where we accuse all immigrants of being here for the wrong reasons or here to do harm to this nation.

GOLDEN: He didn't say that.

SERRANO: That's the blanket approach that I'm against.

DOBBS: OK. So you -- it's not a blanket approach you're against, you just don't want what?

SERRANO: I want there to be drivers' licenses for immigrants in this state.


GOLDEN: It's the rule of law. This nation was built on the rule of law.

Our state was built on the rule of law. This governor -- this is a part of our legislation. In 1995, he has to uphold the rule of law. The people across this state expect him to.


9/11 -- 3,000 people dead, $200 billion in carnage in this state.


Mohamed Atta stopped in Florida -- no license. He recognized the need of a license.

What did he do?

He called up his cell and had 16 of them get licenses and 14...

DOBBS: But let me ask you this...

GOLDEN: And 14 get...

DOBBS: I understand. GOLDEN: ...I.D.s.

DOBBS: But let me ask you both this question. There is no doubt in the mind of anyone that we've spoken with that there is a fundamental and deepening concern right now across this country that there is a system attic attempt being made to bring illegal aliens into voter registration in this country before 2008.

Now that driver's license is a requirement, is it not?

SERRANO: No. And it never was. Just like you don't need a domestic license to get on a domestic flight. And you should know that, Senator.

DOBBS: Right.

SERRANO: And the 9/11 hijackers who did all those horrible things to our nation were not out of status. They had paperwork...


SERRANO: And they could...

GOLDEN: ...two of them had status.

SERRANO: And they could fly with a foreign passport. And you know that.

GOLDEN: That's not true.

SERRANO: And the truth of the matter is, is that getting...

DOBBS: Well, let's get to this, because this really where we're headed. Governor Spitzer says, for him, it's a matter of morality and practicality. I think it's interesting that the governor finds it easier to be moral when it's practical. I don't know precisely what his answers will be when morality is impractical.

But the fact is that this state is making it easier for illegal aliens -- here illegally, who violated law -- to continue to break law, that is, to continue to be here illegal.

Why should the State of New York take a unilateral action that it would not take in the enforcement of immigration laws to make it easier for people here illegally?

SERRANO: The truth of the matter, Lou, is that immigrants are here. They're part of this nation. They're part of this state. And unless every...

DOBBS: When you say immigrants, let's be very clear, because that's a specious, if you will, diffusion of meaning.

And you know that, don't you, Senator?

SERRANO: No. DOBBS: We're talking about illegal immigrants, aren't we?

Are we talking about illegal immigrants...

SERRANO: Well...

DOBBS: Or are we talking about all immigrants?

SERRANO: Well, immigrants can be out of status...

DOBBS: Let's talk about illegal.


DOBBS: Let's talk about illegal.


DOBBS: So -- because I don't want you to get confused or anyone at all on this issue.


So undocumented immigrants are here. And they were...

DOBBS: Why can't you say illegal?

SERRANO: Because they're undocumented.

DOBBS: Undocumented?

I've seen all sorts of documents.

SERRANO: We can mince words.

DOBBS: They're all...

SERRANO: We can mince words...

DOBBS: No, no, no...

SERRANO: But the truth of the matter is...

DOBBS: We're not mincing words. They're illegal.

SERRANO: ...illegal, undocumented, out of status...

DOBBS: Yes, right.

SERRANO: We know what we're talking about.


SERRANO: And the truth of the matter is that they're here...

DOBBS: Now we know what we're talking about. GOLDEN: Yes, we do.

SERRANO: And they work very hard in this state. And many of them who don't have drivers' licenses are forced...

DOBBS: But Senator...

SERRANO: walk to work...

DOBBS: But Senator...

SERRANO: ...and...

DOBBS: I couldn't agree with you more. Most -- most illegal immigrants in this country are good, hard working people who are here because of economic circumstance, and, frankly, are here because they have been attracted here by the prospect of illegal employers offering them jobs -- and in contravention of U.S. law.

Why is it the impulse of the state senate of New York to aid and abet those unlawful employers and to continue to permit the perpetuation of an absolute breakdown of law in this country?

SERRANO: A driver's license is not an immigration document. It is verification that you have...

DOBBS: Then why are you restricting this discussion to illegal immigrants who would be receiving such documents?

SERRANO: Because currently they...

DOBBS: Why are you doing that?

SERRANO: Because currently they can't get it.

DOBBS: You can't have it both ways, Senator. Come on. We're getting so close to talking truth...

SERRANO: And it would mean a savings of $120 million for insured motorists in this state.

DOBBS: All right.

GOLDEN: The Motor Voter. With the Motor Voter turnaround, you've just got to show your license. You say you don't need a license. Motor Voter is show your license, register to vote, go in and vote.

When you do you figure it out that person has already voted, by the time you figure out that that person is illegal?

SERRANO: Even...

GOLDEN: That's vote already in and counted. And here's what the Commission said. The 9/11 Commission said secure identification should begin in the United States.

Do you know why they said that?

And it also said that the federal government should set standards of

Insurance for sources of identification...

SERRANO: Senator, you know...

GOLDEN: Wait a second.

Wait a second, please.

And it says -- you know why?

Because Interpol just came out this past weekend and found there were 15 million passports that have been stolen.


GOLDEN: And guess what?

DOBBS: Senator Serrano, you get the last word.

GOLDEN: That is the...

SERRANO: Senator, you're talking about a totally different issue. Before...

GOLDEN: No, I'm not. I'm talking about...


DOBBS: Let's talk about this.

Why should the states...

SERRANO: Even before this governor's plan (INAUDIBLE)...

DOBBS: Why should the state senate of New York -- the great state of New York -- be offering documents to people in this country illegally rather than standing up for law and order?

SERRANO: Because it's better than keeping our heads in the sand.


SERRANO: We have uninsured...

DOBBS: Then why don't you (INAUDIBLE)...

SERRANO: ...unlicensed...

DOBBS: Then why don't you...

SERRANO: ...motorists on the road and they need to have licenses so that they can buy insurance and they can do what they need to do. It's a...

GOLDEN: What about the millions that waited to get into this country?

What about them?

What do we tell those individuals that waited to come into our country legally?

DOBBS: You get...

GOLDEN: What do we tell about that?

DOBBS: Let Senator Serrano in.

SERRANO: You mentioned about voting. The truth of the matter is...

DOBBS: No, answer the senator's question.

We're out of time.

I'm sorry, Senator Serrano.

What about those people?

SERRANO: It really doesn't make a difference.

DOBBS: OK. That's it.

SERRANO: They are here...

DOBBS: Gentlemen, we thank you.

SERRANO: They are here, they have a right to be here.

DOBBS: Senator Golden, Senator Serrano, we thank you both.

GOLDEN: Thank you very much.

DOBBS: Appreciate it, gentlemen.

Up next, another senator -- Senator Hillary Clinton. She says she's standing up for middle class Americans. We'll be talking about how is she doing that with three of the best talk radio show hosts in the country.

And, can Fred Thompson live up to his supporters' expectations in the presidential race or is he what one top political analyst who's been there -- the White House, that is -- calls a dud?

A dud?

Stay with us.

We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Three of the country's top radio talk show hosts join me now.

In Los Angeles, Doug McIntyre, KABC. Doug, good it have you with us.

And in Chicago, WGN's Steve Cochran. They are so tough at WGN, he's got to work all the way through. It's great to have you with us.

STEVE COCHRAN, WGN: It's really tough for me. It's like coal mining. It's very difficult, Lou.


DOBBS: We're looking out for you, partner.


DOBBS: Thanks for being with us.

And here in New York, Mark Simone, WABC Radio. Mark, good to have you with us.


DOBBS: Let's start here, Mark.

I mean this -- we saw the Republicans debate this afternoon on the economy.

Pretty exciting stuff, huh?

SIMONE: Fascinating, debate Number 600. I think we've got a great candidate -- it's just broken up into four or five people. You've got Romney -- a great business guy, an efficiency expert. Giuliani -- you'll never find a better crime fighter. Huckabee is probably the most articulate...

DOBBS: Other than Fred Thompson, I assume you mean.

SIMONE: Fred Thompson, the tallest.


SIMONE: Huckabee -- great character, great heart. If we could put all these guys together into one guy, we'd have something.

DOBBS: Well, Steve, what...

COCHRAN: You may have something there.

How about a Mr. Potato Head, like where you could take the pieces and parts and put them all together into one?


DOBBS: Well, I think that one of the great moments where was -- and let's show this, because, you know, in a debate like this, Mitt Romney had a pretty good line here, if we can share that with everybody.


GOV. MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a lot like "Law and Order," Senator. It...



Thank you.

ROMNEY: No, it has -- it has a huge cast. The series seems to go on forever and Fred Thompson shows up at the end.





FRED THOMPSON (R), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: And to think, I thought I was going to be the best actor on the stage.


DOBBS: Pretty tough stuff.

COCHRAN: You know, Lou, the TV reference is appropriate, though, because people just are not locked in at all. And, as you know, the major of America is wrapped up in "Dancing With The Stars" tonight much more than they are this riveting debate which we're discussing right now. And, frankly, it's going to be months.

The people we've talked to -- and we did this in the last hour on the show -- they're talking about really getting behind this thing and getting interested around primary time, possibly. It's too early. It's too much.

DOBBS: Some time just before Thanksgiving at this rate.

SIMONE: Right.


DOBBS: Doug, out there with your left coast perspective, fill us in.

MCINTYRE: Well, the debates have become like yard sales -- you can't go two blocks without running into another one. And the reality is, is that by the time the process is over, we will have a Mr. Potato Head candidate, because they'll graft on all of the focus group issues that came up in the debates and attach them to themselves and pretend as if that's always been their core beliefs.

So while you're right that most Americans are focused on "Dancing With The Stars," to me they're showing great, good common sense by ignoring a lot of this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I agree completely.

DOBBS: One of the things they are doing, Mark, is they're giving great attention to Hillary Clinton. Here are the latest polls that show her, frankly, it looks like it's all over, according to the latest polls. Senator Clinton holding better than a 20 percent advantage.

Can we put that up?

There it is.

Senator Clinton with a 22 percent advantage over Obama.

Mark, this thing looks over.

SIMONE: Well, yes, you know, every time any candidate has been in this position at this point in time, they've lost. Go back to Paul Tsongas in '92...

DOBBS: Whoa.

SIMONE: Go back to Howard Dean in 2004.


DOBBS: Howard who?

SIMONE: Howard Dean. You remember him. Now, but Hillary has got a great strategy, which is just promise something every day. It was $5,000 for every baby. Now it's $1,000 for every person. You'll all be getting a letter next week that you may have won a million dollars from Hillary.

COCHRAN: Actually, I'll tell you what, she'll get my endorsement if she promises the Cubs will win the World Series next year. And then I'm on board.

But the Howard Dean reference is right. I don't see Hillary doing bird calls at a speech any time soon. But the fact of the matter is this stuff can change on a dime and she may be the leader in the clubhouse, but isn't close to the finish line yet.

DOBBS: We're going to be right back here with our panel in just a moment.

A reminder to vote in tonight's poll. The question is should I accept Vicente Fox's challenge to debate him anywhere, anytime?

I want to say to President -- former President Vicente Fox, you decide whether I debate, El Jefe.

Cast your vote at

We'll bring you the results here at the end of the broadcast.

And at the top of the hour, none other than my colleague Wolf Blitzer with "THE SITUATION ROOM" -- Wolf, tell us all about it.


Republican presidential candidates, as you know, they have faced off earlier today -- this time, with Fred Thompson in the mix. We're going to find out how they did, how he did in this, his first debate.

Also, old enough to go to war, but not old enough to drink. Now, there is a new push to lower the drinking age, but it's meeting with some fierce opposition.

And details of the landmark deal that could impact the air millions of us are breathing.

Speaking, by the way, of Fred Thompson, does he have an image problem?

We're going to show you some of the ribbing he's getting from the media.

All that, Lou, coming up, and a lot more, right here in "THE SITUATION ROOM."

DOBBS: Thank you very much, Wolf.

We're looking forward to it.

We'll be right back with our radio talk show hosts in just one moment.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: We're back with our radio panel.

Doug McIntyre, I want to ask you, Senator Barack Obama, as you know, he's not wearing a lapel pin -- lapel pins like the one I wear. He says it's become a -- I think he said it was -- it's become, in his mind, at least -- a substitute for true patriotism.

The three of you, I noticed, don't wear lapel pins.

So you must not be very patriotic, Doug. I mean...

MCINTYRE: We're on radio.


MCINTYRE: We're lucky we have lapels.


DOBBS: What do you -- what do you make of the senator's focus on this? And that of, I mean, good lord, Katie Couric has taken up the issue, Bill Moyers.

I mean...

SIMONE: Even topless dancers are wearing them now. I don't know how.

DOBBS: It's crazy.

What do you think?

MCINTYRE: Well, I don't know what to make of it. It's a very strange thing to comment on. And I know that, you know, we all know about paper mache patriots and people who just wrap themselves in a flag...

DOBBS: Right.

MCINTYRE: ...and there'll be 600 flags on a stage. And I don't think we should judge people's patriotism by whether they do or don't wear a lapel flag. But it's just an odd thing to bring up in a campaign.

DOBBS: What do you think, Steve?

COCHRAN: Well, you know, here in Illinois, where Senator Obama is from, it doesn't have any interest at all, frankly. I mean it was a news story briefly. It came and it went. I just don't think that you do judge anybody's patriotism on it. But I would like to have seen Senator Obama or any politician do something crazy and say something logical when it's brought up, like, yes, I was wearing it. Now I don't wear it, but I still love America.

DOBBS: That...


COCHRAN: I mean, come on.


DOBBS: I love it.

And by the way, we're going to have -- we've got to end this discussion.

I mean, first of all, wearing a lapel pin with a flag on it -- which I wear out of respect for those...

COCHRAN: Which is great.

DOBBS: ...I started wearing it after September 11th for those who were killed in those attacks. And, you know, it doesn't make me more patriotic than anyone else. I don't think anyone should infer that. It's simply a personal statement.


DOBBS: It's just bizarre that people are taking this up.

Speaking of bizarre, Vicente Fox, Mark Simone, has challenged me to a debate. Now, we've been asking him to do this, but he wanted -- he's challenged me on LARRY KING LIVE last night.

Do you think I should -- should I do that ?

SIMONE: You should do it. I can't wait to see this poll. I guarantee you it's going to be 100 percent. I also guarantee you he will never, ever agree to a debate with you. He's got no chance...

DOBBS: No, he's -- he's already -- he's already said it.

SIMONE: He's said it, but he's a politician.

COCHRAN: Yes, he won't show.

SIMONE: It will never happen.

DOBBS: Oh, Mark, you're so cynical.


SIMONE: It will never happen.

COCHRAN: He will not show.

MCINTYRE: Lou, you should insist...


MCINTYRE: You should insist as the terms of the debate that he call you Lou baby.

DOBBS: Lou baby?


DOBBS: You liked that in that e-mail, huh?

COCHRAN: Yes, and you know, what...

DOBBS: The viewer...

COCHRAN: Yes. And you know what, Lou?

I want to be your corner man. I want to be the guy that wraps the towel around, sprays you down with water between rounds. He has no idea what he's getting into. Please debate him. Please.

DOBBS: All right, well, I think he's going to want -- as a matter of fact, I'm sure he will want home court advantage. That means San Cristobal, Chiapas, Mexico...

MCINTYRE: Well, then come to Los Angeles.


DOBBS: I think he wants an even more home court, Doug.

Thank you very much.

COCHRAN: I like your chances.

DOBBS: Doug McIntyre, Steve Cochran.

We're going to find out what our viewers think.

Mark Simone...

SIMONE: A hundred percent.

DOBBS: Base -- OK, we've got your forecast on this.

Appreciate it.

Good to have you here.

SIMONE: Thank you.

DOBBS: Thank you all.

COCHRAN: Take care.

DOBBS: Coming up next, the results of tonight's poll.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: And now the results of our poll tonight. Mark Simone didn't have it quite right, but he was pretty close -- 95 percent of you responding in our poll tonight saying I should accept Vicente Fox's challenge to debate him.

And I'm going to take your advice and do just that. We're going to -- home court advantage goes to the president. I'll see him wherever he wants to meet when he wants to meet. It's on.

Thanks for being with us.

Join us tomorrow.

For all of us, thanks for watching.

Good night from New York.

"THE SITUATION ROOM" begins now with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.